July 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Victory Fund endorses Obama-era ambassador for U.S. Senate
Daniel Baer, United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, gay news, Washington Blade
Gay U.S. ambassador Daniel Baeris running for U.S. Senate in Colorado. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key).

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which has the exclusive purpose of backing LGBT candidates running for political office, has thrown its support behind a former U.S. ambassador who served during the Obama administration and is running to become the first openly gay man elected to the U.S. Senate.

Annise Parker, CEO of the Victory Fund, announced the endorsement of Baer Monday in a statement that recalled Jared Polis’s 2018 victory in Colorado as the first openly gay man elected governor.

“Coloradans led the country by electing America’s first openly gay governor in 2018 – and in 2020 they will make history again in sending the first out gay man to the U.S. Senate,” Parker said.

Baer is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Senate in a field of candidates that includes former State Sen. Michael Johnston, former Navy sailor and Halliburton worker Keith Pottratz, former State Rep. Andrew Romanoff and former congressional candidate Stephany Spaulding.

The Democratic primary in Colorado is June 30, 2020. If Baer succeeds in obtaining the Democratic nomination, he’ll face off against Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who’s considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in 2020.

The Victory Fund endorsement comes shortly after Baer reported a second-quarter fundraising haul of $1.35 million, including $1.1 million in total contributions. According to the Victory Fund, that’s the largest ever initial fundraising report for an openly LGBT congressional candidate not already in Congress.

Parker invoked both Baer’s fundraising numbers and Gardner, who has refused to support the Equality Act, in her statement announcing the Baer nomination.

“Never before has an openly LGBTQ Congressional candidate reported such strong initial fundraising numbers without the benefit of congressional incumbency – an important indicator, given LGBTQ candidates for high-level office are often underestimated early in their campaigns,” Parker said. “But Dan’s authentic and values-driven approach to politics is resonating with voters, and there is no better candidate to take on anti-LGBTQ incumbent Cory Gardner than a person so deeply affected by the discriminatory positions Gardner promotes.”

One of seven openly gay ambassadors in the Obama administration, Baer as U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe was charged with deescalating tensions in Europe during the Ukraine crisis in 2014.

Previously, Baer served as deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. Baer worked on international LGBT issues, including the integration of LGBT human rights abuses in the State Department’s annual human rights report.

In addition to being the first openly gay man elected to the Senate, Baer would be the third openly LGBT person to serve in the U.S. Senate. The first was Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first out lesbian elected to the chamber, and the second was Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the first out bisexual person in the Senate.

News of the Victory Fund’s endorsement of Baer comes shortly after the organization endorsed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in his bid for the Democratic nomination to become president.

Like Baer, Buttigieg announced good fundraising numbers for the second quarter, reporting a haul of nearly $25 million. No other Democratic presidential candidate thus far has reported similar numbers.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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